Drought, abattoir top Boshcoff’s agenda

FORT FRANCES—The coming year will be a busy one for Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff, with the Liberal MP focusing on issues such as the drought, a local abattoir, and forestry.
The drought—estimated to have cost the local cattle industry $3.6 million—will be one of the first items on Boshcoff’s agenda when he returns to work this week.
“I have a meeting [this] week on the drought, in Ottawa,” he noted late last week. “Just keeping the pressure up.”
Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food minister Chuck Strahl announced tax deferrals to livestock producers in Northwestern Ontario earlier this month, but the move was seen as inadequate by many district farmers.
Also on Boshcoff’s agenda for the coming year is the situation of the uninspected meat at Sunrise Meat and Sausage in Barwick and Greensides General Store in Devlin—and the need for an abattoir in the district.
“The provincial minister [of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky] called me on Christmas Eve,” Boshcoff noted.
“They are meeting in the first 10 days of January on this, and I’m led to believe that many of the suggestions have been heard,” he added.
Always an important issue for this district is forestry, Boshcoff continued.
“For us, always over-riding are the issues of forestry and energy pricing,” he noted.
Unfortunately, there’s no federal forestry package on the horizon.
“The Conservatives have no forest program. It’s been very frustrating,” Boshcoff said.
Boshcoff already has met with some of the new municipal councils that were elected back in November, and said his message to them is that he’s here to help.
“I will be working with the new councils in ensuring that whatever I can do federally, they know that I’m available,” he remarked. “I’m looking forward to meeting and working with them.”
Given the current minority government situation, an election also is a strong possibility—though Boshcoff said he hopes the House will wait.
“Certainly the rumours of the election are rampant,” he said. “My personal feeling is that we should hold off on an election as long as possible.”
The last federal election was less than a year ago (Jan. 23, 2006).
Boshcoff has been in office for only 31 months, during which time there’s already been two elections.
“I don’t think anybody really wants one,” he added.
Overall, Boshcoff said he’s looking forward to helping his constituency “realize its potential” in 2007.
“I’m feeling pretty energized,” he said. “I’m keen to get things wrapped up.”